Tag Archives: students

Your Guide to the French Educational System

The education system in your country may come as innate knowledge, but from the outside looking in, the educational roadmap may be harder to navigate. As many of you are quite literally moving from the familiar to the unfamiliar, SFP thought it would be helpful to cover some of the topics central to your new way of living. The education system is perhaps one of the most important topics for those living in Paris with kids. It may be a bit tricky to comprehend on your first go, but understanding how kids come into adulthood in France is a valuable and important piece of knowledge about the French culture. Take, for example, the early pathways kids are sorted into in order to choose their topic of expertise. Or take a crack at the organization of levels (hint: the French sometimes count backwards.)



Photo courtesy of JJ Thompson


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On Rue Tatin | A Cooking Course for All…

My initial thought when asked to attend one of Susan Herrmann Loomis’ cooking classes was one of sheer panic. Boasting tuna sweetcorn pasta and a bacon omelette as two of my finest dishes it is safe to say I am no culinary wizard.

Upon arrival, however, I couldn’t have been made to feel more at home. Alongside five other students, mostly tourists visiting Paris for a couple of weeks, I was warmly met by Susan and welcomed into her beautiful home kitchen, tucked away in the 6th arrondissement.

Having put on our aprons and passed by the perfectly laid out dining table, it was time to get started.


First on the menu was salt tasting, the purpose of which was to show the undeniable difference in taste between sea salt and regular table salt. All passed round anonymously, the 3 sea salt pots were met with looks of pleasure and enjoyment, before the final pot of table salt induced grimaces from Continue reading

The Education System in France

Ahhh the French school system.  You’ve heard legends about how short the weeks are and how long the vacations last.  Or what about the fact that it’s virtually free?  That’s right, no $50,000 price tag on a college education! Well we’ll be more specific with that in a bit.

But let’s start with the basics.  French children start going to school at a very young age: some start at the age of 2, while nearly all begin at the age of 3.  Spending 2 to 3 years in maternelle (the equivalent of pre-school and kindergarten) is the norm.  The government wants kids to get a head start with their verbal and motor skills.  Not a bad idea when you think about it! The U.S. government has even been in talks to make preschool and kindergarten mandatory for all students because the early years are establish more discipline and focus.

maternelle max

After maternelle comes primaire (elementary school )  and secondaire (middle and high school).  During these years kids go to school Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.  Wednesday used to be the one day a week that was ‘libéré,’ (not in session).  Students have very long days, Continue reading